NADP ViC2021 Week 2 Webinar
...questions in the Questions and Answers section or in the chat and we'll follow that up after. Each persons got 10 minutes and we'll have a discussion after that before the next one. Fill! Thanks Alastair. I am just going to crack on with very little introduction other than to say that I am the TechAbility Manager and assistive technology lead and today I am just going to give you a bit of a background to TechAbility and then I’m going to talk about three key lessons that we've learned over the last year about assistive technology and not all of them are directly technology-related it has to be said. So, a little bit of background on TechAbility; We exist really, in the first instance, to support specialist colleges right across the UK. So, these are Further Education organisations that have a specialist remit for young people with disabilities and that covers a wide spectrum, but we provide consultation for them.
But we have a wider reach in terms of presenting at things like this. We have a series of free webinars and we have training which anyone can tie into and we've also produced what we call the TechAbility standards for assistive technology, which I’ll introduce towards the end if Alistair doesn't ring his bell too hard at me. So our web address is techability.org.uk. If you want to find out more about us.
What we did just recently as part of a different conference is pull together some positive technology outcomes from the last year. So we're trying to not use the c word, the covid word, but we're trying to say, you know, what's happened over the last year and what are the positives we can take? Lots of people are doing this. They're saying “what's the really good things that we found worked well, that we want to hang on to and we don't want necessarily to go back to normal as it were, and throw all this stuff away, because we're going back, face-to-face. What can we learn?” And there's a lot of stuff in technology in general, learning technology and assistive technology, where that applies. So, what we did is created a series... a mini series of podcasts.
We talk to people in specialist college settings and so this... you'll get the short version today. The very short version, but the long version is in the podcast, I’d encourage you to listen to those because there's a really good discussion going on. There about engaging learners who weren't previously engaged, talking about digital skills, platforms and systems that are happening in the background, but also a lot about flexible teaching and learning. Some of the people tying into that are doing some really... they've changed the way they teach to a certain extent so that it can be a lot more flexible and use a hybrid model and use the best elements of the hybrid model. So that's on anchor.fm/techability.
So on to the meat of what really I wanted to talk about today. And as I said, there's three things I want to talk about the first is about remote technology, being an assistive technology in itself. As Alistair mentioned, we're going very wide on the definition of assistive technology here. But really, what we found with our discussions from people in education, is
that they found that for specific groups of learners, online learning was a real advantage. And you've probably heard this a lot from other people as well, but one of the quotes that I like, is a tutor from the college said she felt that for her learners, she works with autism, their sensory alert system is calmer. She felt that eye contact over Zoom was very different from eye contact in the classroom and just the general presence of people that that person was allowed to be in a space where they felt comfortable, rather than being in a room with four, five, ten, twenty other people that they may not have been comfortable in. We found a lot of people were talking about the fact that the advantage that they could take on was that learners may not be in the building full-time.
And they may not have to be in the building full-time. That wouldn't be an expectation and therefore the assistive technology might be the fact that they can be at a distance and they can maybe tie into some face-to-face sessions, but others remotely and assistive technology in the way of talking about pastoral support for learners. So, these final two points are kind of the same really, it might be that a particular member of staff has a particular connection with a learner and to be able to do that remotely using online technologies is a lot easier than having to say, right, well, let's make an appointment and you need to come into the building.
Secondly, systems themselves. AT (assistive technology) is really poor without the right IT in place, and there's a lot in the podcast about this. We found a lot of stories, anecdotal stories, about learners who, when they were learning at home, they had greater access to their assistive technology and learning tools in general than they did when they were in college because the systems had blocked things. By trying to make things safe, sometimes IT teams can be over enthusiastic and they lock down some of the general Windows accessibility settings and things like that. Learners weren't able to get access as well at college, as they could at home. The other lessons that came up was about choosing platforms carefully, obviously early on, there was a big rush to just find a platform that we could use for remote learning, but we need to be careful and make sure we can do things like autocaptioning or add a captioner. Can the learner zoom in on the screen that's being shared so they can see it more clearly? Do they know the keyboard shortcuts? And the other thing IT-wise was about improving everyone's Basic digital skills.
So, we're talking about staff here, mostly not just the Learners. Lots of staff had to skill up really quickly, but if that baseline had been higher to start off with, they might well, have had an easier job. So, if everyone's digital skills could be increased across an organisation, then in situations like this, everyone benefits from an assistive technology point of view. So, thirdly really less human input can equal more independence. Lots of stories about learners being able to use the assistive technology tools and that they required the more during home learning because the weren't other human beings in the room where typically they might have turned and asked another member of staff or maybe another student to help them with a task, they felt that they needed to rely on the accessibility tools more. Now this sounds pretty harsh that we're saying 'Oh, let's remove some human support and put some assistive technology in place’ and I’m not suggesting that happens overnight.
But in terms of having a sliding scale approach, can we move from human support to assistive technology support so that, when that learner moves out of a college situation, they've got the skills they need and the independence skills. And a lot of that might be around seeing things like the immersive reader in Office 365, that there's a picture of on the screen, not as an assistive tool, but as a productivity tool introducing it to learners as as 'well, this just here. You can use it'. The same for a lot of the tools in Google Classroom and the add-ons in Chrome and it improves everyone's knowledge of built-in accessibility. It might be that sometimes if you call it assistive technology, people think, 'Oh, that's for a specialist team to take care of, when actually it's everybody's responsibility.
So, I just wanted to quickly mention the TechAbility standards and this something we put together so that everybody within or an organisation can know what excellent looks like, when it comes to assistive technology. The resource is online bit.ly/TAStandards or you can just go to the techability website and find it and it's a range of standards looking right across assistive technology and whether organisations have got things in place to make sure all students can access what they need. What we've done over the last year or so is introduced a new one, called 'Blended and Online Learning' which again we hadn't thought of before covid. But it's really just looking at the particular sets of skills and what needs to be in place to make sure that blended and online learning is accessible and [I’m stopping talking in a minute, Alastair] just to highlight training courses on the TechAbility website. I’m happy to take your questions in the Q&A now, if I’ve got time Alistair?
Oh yes you've got five minutes. Oh right. Five minutes of questions. That was the one minute warning for the end of the presentation. So another minute, if you want to finish the presentation but basically we've now got five minutes for people to be able to come back to Fil and ask about that. Okay?
So I will take a breath and take some questions rather going back. Now the first thing I did notice is Kate was asking, if you could put a link to the podcast because I think a lot of people would be interested in hearing the whole, the whole lessons that you learned. Yes, I will. I will post that in the chat. If I could highlight it from my presentation. There's no immediate... Yeah, if you can do it now, that's great. So any other questions? Any other observations? So Keith's got one here in the chat.
So Keith's saying that “don't forget the application of technology for some is a worse approach”. So have you got any feedback from your experiences as to how that's handled or how you balance some of the really positive things that came out with some of those more difficult things? I totally agree, Keith and I think it's one of those areas that we need to be really cautious of, that making sure that for some people, it doesn't go the opposite way. That we don't go down the avenue of saying, 'Right, well, technology solved, so many issues over the last year that everybody just needs to use it and get on with it'. I would totally be against that kind of approach. I think to me what it comes down to is an individualised approach as I’m sure you're all on board with, but making sure that when it comes to technology, there's some sort of assessment in place that takes into account, that person's situation. There's an interesting assistive technology model called the HAAT model, which is all about getting the right assistive technology in place. But it's all set within
the context of what that individual wants to achieve or can achieve or maybe their life context and sometimes people who are keen on technology can forget that and then just go, 'Right! Here's a solution. Boom! Off you go.' They don't take into account the learner or the person's preferences. So yes, totally agree with you on that. Can I ask you... because in that last minute obviously my bell was panicking you... but could we go and have a look at the training? Are there any of the training courses, that support this? There's not a specific course around that, but one thing we do, as part of our training, I mean, the one thing that might support it really, is a course on supporting AT at all stages of a learner's journey that looks at pre intake and a learner's journey throughout their time right through to, when they might be transitioning out of college and what needs to be in place and how their needs might change during that. So that might touch on it to certain extent. But coming back to assessment, what we do sometimes for colleges is that we will
do more of a consultancy-based approach and we'll come into a college, we'll deliver some assistive technology assessments, but make sure that other people can observe those and that we're passing on the skills to the people who are going to be in there every day because AT assessment should be a continuous process, it shouldn't be a one-off. As the learners needs change and as they're going along, a reassessment or a reappraisal might need to take place. And presumably, they may need less support, as time goes on if the support that's been in place has been appropriate. They may be more independent. Yeah, ideally, I mean, I always think that the less hardware or software that somebody has to carry with them or take with them, if that's enabled them to move to being more independent, you know, there's an interface I think between assistive technology and learning technologies and sometimes the learning technologies can be more appropriate and there's a crossover there, if that's not too vague. That sounded really vague, sorry. Bigger discussion, I think. And if you want to unpack that a little bit more then carry on in the chat there, we've had a couple of comments about the experiences of deaf signing students. So, what I’m going to do, I’m going to introduce Lilian now but before... Sorry I’m going to introduce Craig. Sorry
Lillian for panicking you and Craig for panicking you but there's a couple of questions in the chat. Perhaps Fil, you can have a look at those and pop any responses that are appropriate in there and thank you very much for that Fil, that was really clear overview, and I’m going to pass over to a very old friend; Craig Mill from CALL, Scotland, who has done... CALL Scotland has done some brilliant work on their wheels of apps that some people may be familiar with. If you
aren't, you've got a treat coming. So Craig, do you want to give us a quick overview then of what you've got? And also how you keep it up to date because you're recycling and revisiting some of that at the moment. So over to you and two bells, you know, the one means you're halfway through, the second one means you've still got a minute to go. Okay thanks Alastair and Alastair is going to be popping some links in as where we'll just to help out. So thanks very much. So as I said my name is Craig and I’m the assistive technology advisor at CALL Scotland and were normally based in Andhra University and I think Alistair will pop the link in just now to the CALL website. If you're unfamiliar with CALL, CALL stands for Communication, Access, Literacy and Learning, and we are a team of 10 people.
And we're a mix of speech and language therapists, or supporting pupils or Learners with communication difficulties. We have couple of Engineers and we have a couple of Administrators, teachers and myself and it's essentially, we cover the whole of Scotland advising on how technology can support Learners with the range of additional support needs. There's really a lot of information on the CALL website. So I’m just on,
you can see the breadcrumb trail to information and we cover all these different areas and there's a whole range of technology that we can do but what I’m going to do is really signpost you to some of the more popular resources that we have. I suppose in infographs that we've got and just maybe talk a bit a bit about them. So this the download page and hopefully also we'll pop that in and the kind of areas I’m going to look at here are the posters and leaflets that we've got so just go into posters and leaflets there and you can see we've got a whole range of posters that are available to look at but where did it all start from actually? So if I, just trying to get rid of the top bar, I can get rid of this top bar where that maybe just minimize this a minute just so I can just get the how do you get rid of the top bar on? Let me see if I can get, I’m trying to get rid of the zoom bar so it's not in my way and I can get access to tabs? Oh yes, that's interesting, so I can't actually get to any of the tabs just now that I’ve got set up so I’ll just maybe mine I might minimize that down there you can see you can't see the whole screen but here we go so it originally started off back in 2012 because at the time when iPads came out in 2010, there were loads of iPad lists of apps, recommended apps lists, lists were everywhere.
So we thought we'd maybe take a different approach and sort of contextualize it within a context of a book and it's proved really popular but of course after a year it was out of date so you know we’re a quite small team so we don't have a great you know sort of time to update these things so I did update it to a new version to ios 7.1 but then very quickly that was soon out of date as well. So my colleague Alan he sort of created this thing called the wheel of apps for learners. This was the first resource that we used, the wheel of apps,
although we did focus on you know some of the posters looking at some of the built-in options as well. And this just let you see how it looks, so the first one was really sort of developed into categories, were broken down into categories, so we had within sort of text and speech reading ebooks, working PDFs and these are kind of a lot of these apps were originally programs that we used before the iPad came about so some of the companies such as Claroread, Texthelp, these sorts of, you know, they've been about for a long time and we kind of knew that the apps were really quite good so we kind of built the wheel around there originally and that's really how the sort of wheel of apps started start to develop. But of course there was a new generation of app developers who were really unheard of before now so a lot of our decision making was based on, I just go to the Joy Zabala site so we use the kind of a framework, filmation the heart framework, we use the Joy Zabala SETT framework and SETT is an acronym for Students Environments Tasks and Tools and this where the learner is placed at the centre using a collaborative approach.
So we use what's called the SETT scaffolding data forms, we could identify the learner's needs, the tools they use in context or environments and in tasks so that this how we started drawing some of the wheels and some of the apps together. There's also quite a lot of sort of app rubrics as well that's available as well so we kind of use some of them looking at the apps rubrics and I have a word if anyone wants this one, we can send, it's not available anymore but we can send it. So this one is kind of split into engagement curriculum relevance, engagement, students needs, usability, feedback, different differentiation and it was kind of, did it meet the criteria? And if it did, we would sort of add that to the list so based on that, as you see, if we just put back to the wheel of apps, we started creating these posters mainly because they were so popular. So there's a whole range of resources on AAC that you have here for looking at apps to support AAC and then of course we started looking at android apps to support communication needs, android apps for learners with Dyslexia as well and then there were more general ones looking particular information for schools and local authorities just to check, you know, were they meeting their local legal requirements as well? And what really became popular after that was just identifying or exploring some of the built-in tools that were on the iPad.
So just as I scroll down here, we've got using the iPad to support Dyslexia, so these were all the built-in tools that are readily available using the iPad to support learners for physical difficulties, visual difficulties as well. If I just pop into the let me see the this one again so this just kind of, it really just highlights some of the tools that are available that can be used. So one thing I was very kind of aware of although there were thousands and thousands of downloads of the app wheels and the infographs, what the app wheels didn't tell you was actually how to use some of the programs and how to make the most of them so it prompted me to start developing a series of videos. So on the CALL channel I think Alice has maybe got the link for that as I’ve started over the past year putting together a series of playlists which kind of support the app wheels and the infographs. So we've got for example we've got a playlist on, so these are iPad short guides to support reading and writing and they take you through really basic things on making web pages easier to read using speak selection using the speak screen controller typing feedback check spelling predictive text right through to using an external keyboard and a mouse with an iPad so as well as that, I started, just recently finished something, the playlist on a kind of introduction on how to create accessible documents so it really just takes you from the very beginning on what is a word document right through to creating an accessible word document, a pdf and then through to an epub and finally Windows 10 which is a bit older now. I did that a couple of years ago so it's looking at all the various
options in Windows 10 to support visual impairment so I hope that gives you a kind of overview and useful resources that you can use to support learners or yourselves in different contexts. Thanks Alistair I’ll stop. And you're ahead of time as well. Thank you very much for that and I can see lots of people look at the text chat chain thinking that's going to solve some of my staff training needs in the coming months so great to see those playlists. So any questions? Now Fil has done a great job at answering the questions in the question and answer panel from his session. Any comments/questions/worries/anxieties suggestions
from what we've been through with Craig just now? Fabulous resources they certainly are So I’ll give people a minute or two to look and there are links as well, it's quite possible people are on there looking at the links and if you want to do it, that's fine. We've got a little bit of time now we've got another 10 minutes for the discussion and the exploration and then Maisa Obeid is going to be talking to us from Zayed University. I’m really looking forward to that but let's spend this 10 minutes, we're not going to hurry you through, you've got 10 minutes, you've got some links so have a look at some of those links and then when you've had a look at some of them, come back and tell us how you would use them. I should also mention that we have a series of, one of the links is to blog articles and they're kind of a rolling series of articles of stuff we found out of new stuff that's just you know we've discovered and we maybe write about it as well. So they might be quite useful as well, so there's a couple of questions coming in here Mesa would like to know about the apps rubric because that was a nice one. Yeah that one I showed isn't available anymore but I could probably send it, I don't know if there's a way I could send it to everyone, otherwise for today I’d say I just did a google search on apps rubrics for teaching and learning and found a couple. There's also apps I think as well, there's
actual apps you can get the app stores rubrics in themselves for identifying specific apps. Okay now there is I know from the future teacher series if any of you are familiar with that, there is something, I’ll just find it for you there is a tool that we have used in terms of being savvy being digitally savvy, I’ll put the link for that in there and Kathy's asking about using your resources in an HE context. Would there be any problems with that or do they look as if they're primary oriented? Do you want to talk through that? Well I’ve been in lots of colleges and higher education establishment and I’ve seen the posters up on walls so I know that they're used in FE and HE because they tend to be. I mean we're funded for schools but you know I have an FE and HE background so I was trying to put focus on them that the general tools for everyone. So in the infographs where
you're looking at you know things like how to support dyslexia with an iPad, how to support VI, these sorts of things they're generic for all learners really not just younger pupils. And the videos? When you're doing the training? You know things like actually just creating an accessible word document, that's generic for everyone, the iPad to support literacy, again it can be used across the board and the windows VI one specifically for.. I know someone – a needs assessor, in one of the universities that's what she uses for her training for all her students, so she told me, so I think that Strathclyde University, she said it was a lifesaver for her so all the students use that as a training resource.
Kathy’s asking “do you specifically have any input to Primary”? Well we're I’d say we're funded for so we do workshops for primary schools, we do workshops for secondary schools as well, so we have a lot of inputs. One of the things that we have on the CALL website is the Books for All website. So this a portal for teachers to download accessible digital copies of printed books so books like tj, these sorts of things or curriculum level books, teachers can download the book and put it onto the pupils device so that he or she can sort of you know adjust it and amend it, use text-to-speech, all these sorts of things so they have an accessible version of the of the paper copy. Does that link at all with the RNIB bookshare? Well we don't get as much funding as our RNIB bookshare so if teachers can't find the books they're looking for on the Books for All website, we always direct them towards the RNIB bookshare because they'd have so much more funding and there's so many more books that’s available. So I’ll give people a little bit of time because I think it’s so rare you go to a conference and you actually have time to explore the links people are giving, normally you have to do that in the evening when you get home. Did I finish too early? No no not at all, no we've built in ten minutes, right five to ten minutes, we've built in for all of them so you were bang on time, well actually 30 seconds early.
All to the good but we wanted time for people to reflect, to be able to look at links and to be able to discuss. The other thing and I know you have an interest in this, Alistair is that the other thing that we have is we have the Scottish voices. So we have adult voices, we have teenage voice and we have children voices and we have a Gaelic voice so they are all available for free download for people in the public sector and we know that they've made a big difference especially for younger learners who may be using an Alternative Augmented Device, an AAC device, where they're using a device for their own speech and we've heard lots of examples of male users having female voices in their devices and vice versa so now for younger learners they can have a young voice and for older learners, they can have an older voice, where teenagers, they can have a teenage voice as well so I think that's made a big difference too.
That’s really interesting, I think Maisa who's going to be up speaking next will be particularly interested in that because getting hold of good quality local dialect local voices is an important thing and I think Maisa may well touch on that. So any other questions? You've had a chance to have a look at some of the links. This your last few minutes to be able to pick Craig's brains or indeed if there are other resources that you think it would be great for Craig to include on some of the CALL Scotland apps, the literacy apps, the dyslexia apps, the assistive and augmentative or whichever way around that is. For those different wheels of apps, if there are some good links that you spotted aren't on there, I’m sure Craig and his team would be very pleased to hear.
Yeah we would. Okay well I’m not going to rush people and if people are still busy looking or if actually it was such a clear presentation there are no issues or controversies or questions then that's great we’ll then move on a couple of minutes early and I’d like to introduce you to Maisa Obeid and Maisa I’ve only had contact with relatively recently but I just found it really interesting to be outside of the UK bubble of education and assistive technology and kind of disability support and get a completely different perspective and in some ways very refreshing perspective on how it's done in a different culture and so Maisa Obeid from Zayed University is going to talk to us about changing perceptions and aspirations from a Dubai context. So Maisa, if you're ready we'll pass over to you. Yes perfect thank you so much for the introduction and before I start I just want to tell you Craig that we use iPads wheels a lot, it's a must for us, we use it even in the higher education context. We are providing services for students with learning difficulties so iPad wheels is a must and we print these wheels and keep it in our offices so definitely after the conference I will be contacting you, thank you so much.
So greeting everyone here's Maisa from Dubai and so let me before I start introducing our services and the university, let me just start to introduce the concept you know here when we are dealing with people with disabilities. So here in the United Arab Emirates we call people with disabilities ‘people of determination and recognition to their achievements in different fields’ so during this session you might hear me saying people of determination in the slide so we are using this terminology now in the United Arab Emirates and the good thing that we started even to see that Gulf region, even in Jordan other around countries they are started to use this terminology. We started using it in 2017 and now it’s become popular. Even yesterday, I had a conference and all of, even people coming from different countries, they started even to use ‘people of determination’. Where we are here in the United Arab Emirates, in terms of supporting and having lots of support for people with disabilities, in 2006 it was the first UAE federal law to support and ensure equal access to people with disabilities. It has a different pillars: education, employment and access to assistive technology and many other pillars.
This was also, it came with the UN, UAE they signed and ratified the UN nation's law and it started to shape from there, so we start to have at least some international, laws some international appearance in and outside UAE. Now I’ll just give you a brief introduction about our department at Zayed University, so Zayed University we have two campuses. We have one campus in Dubai and the second campus in Abu Dhabi and we provide accessibility services for students with disabilities and our main mission is really important because this shows what we are doing every day, how we support students, how we ensure that really they have equal access to education. It’s not only a terminology or just a mission, we translate this into practice, we make sure that students, they have equal access to education, we empower them, we follow up with them after graduation to make sure that they find really suitable place for them and even we extend their services to support them if we need to provide training in their work employment.
So mainly our vision comes from the government initiatives, government policy and the vision how to support people of determination. So mainly I understand outside you UAE this services could have other disabilities but mainly here in the UAE we provide services for students with vision impairment, that's include long vision, blindness, we support also students with physical disability, we provide also support for students with learning difficulties. I will just elaborate more about this part, we have also some students with autism and we support students with hearing loss mainly you know in our context here, we have students with hearing loss and deaf students unfortunately sometimes deaf students they are not eligible to enter the university because they had reduced curriculum and the school system so in our university the registration for people with disabilities or students with disabilities should be like other students they have to have the same criteria and once they accepted the from the registration, we will start to provide the services. So if these students have reduced curriculum and they are not you know at the same level in terms of academic level, we are not able to provide this support so because of that you will see that we don't have a lot of students with hearing impairment in our university or especially deaf students because they are not able to meet the criteria for registration. We have a quite good number for students with ADHD
and we also try to provide support not based only on the disability type it's based on their needs and even abilities. So what kind of support and services we provide them? Basically there is two paths for these services. For students with vision impairment or for students with low vision, physical impairment usually once they finish the registration process, the registration officer will send them to us, we will do the assessment to make sure that if they need assistive technology devices, we need to make sure that we have this device before the beginning of the semester. We also provide materials, accommodation, we convert text to braille or we provide tactile maps and all of these services. Our main challenge is for students with learning difficulties because usually they come to the university, they join the university but they are not diagnosed so they start in their academic journey and they face a lot of the challenges and the struggle and then after that, if because we have good awareness system and the faculty and deans, they know what is the services they will refer them to us, So once they refer these students to us we will start with intake session.
We have psychologists that will do the assessment for them and we have learning specialists will sit with the students, provide individual training and just go like other you know services. I think one of the most powerful thing that we have is our centres. We have two centre ‘Khalaf Al Habtoor’ and ‘Humaid Al Tayer’ between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. These centres are fully equipped with assistive technology devices and really we make sure that we have the latest technology to support our students. We know that we are not in terms of the speed like other countries in terms of accessibility and assistive technology but now we start in the first step so we want to make sure that we really have good steps to improve and to accelerate the process.
So we have braille machine devices to translate different softwares to support students. Recently before pandemic, it’s not recently anymore, it's almost two years, we opened Abdul Wahid Al Rostamani Inclusive Centre. It was inspired from Apple technology because it’s very accessible for everyone so we create a centre with keeping in mind accessible furniture, inclusive space, even we have a green wall for students and we started to open it for all people even outside the university to support them. So I think one of the really most important things or our asset is these centres and we will be opening another one in Abu Dhabi.
All of these centres and improvement we do a regular basis comes from our network outside UAE so we are contacting people instead. I think one of my colleagues were in this conference two or three years ago so we are trying to do some networking outside our area. Where we are, before I just moved to where we are, I just want to show you the numbers. So we started the department in 2011 you see that we started to have that increase when we started, we provided only services for students with vision and physical hearing impairment. in 2016 we started to provide services for students with learning difficulties. So today we have around 206 students
and this number is increasing because we have the majority of students with learning difficulties. So after this quick introduction, where we are now so since 2016 we are Apple distinguished school recognised by Apple because we implement the technology in a very innovative way, we support the students. Our students they started to use Apple technology and like other students they use voiceover and also on the local or national level we support other universities that don't have much facilities as we have and the human resources so we support the UAE university Sharjah University and we started also to support and communicate with other universities outside UAE. So we support
Sultan Qaboos in Oman, Kuwait university Saudi Arabia however we keep our communication and network outside the Gulf region and even outside Europe or US just to get the latest resources, technologies and ideas. Very quick before I just move to people of determination strategy, we have national policy to empower people of determination. We have six pillars. Because we have this policy, recently they have announced Abu Dhabi comprehensive strategy for people of determination and it will be between four to five years.
I think the interesting thing here is that there's 30 initiatives under this strategy. The good thing that for each pillar we have one team, we have a team leader from other institutions to lead this initiative it's not a shared responsibility, there's a team leader who is responsible at the end of the day to provide information about the improvement and what they have done. This initiative it's from the United Nations convention so at least we have that connection and it's parallel with the international laws and community outside UAE.
How we support this at student accessibility services department, how we as about these initiatives. We have the our future program we started since last year, we support not only internal community, we support Zayed University community. After I have the last slide, I’m not sure if I still have time or already I finished my time? Well I think if you don't mind going a little bit into the your discussion time, that's fine, you could take another couple of minutes and then people can discuss from that, that'll still give us a minutes discussion.
Perfect, thank you so much. I want just before I move to recommendation, I just want to go back for one slide just to show we work what is our model to support students. So students with disabilities are in the centre of our services and then we have all the team accessibility teams supporting the students in terms of assessment, training, providing assistive technology devices because we have load system and sometimes we manage to get devices for them forever and then the second circle is the environment around them is at faculty staff, even IT people, the campus accessibility and then the outer you know circle is the outreach because we found out that students are coming to the university and they are not ready. We have a blind students, they are not using white cane ever so imagine that she's a university student I and I need to start teaching her white cane now and outside in different countries these are skills since they join early intervention centres. So this our model so we started to reach out to schools to support a community, to support teachers and even students with disabilities to make them ready to move to a university.
Last thing from our experience here in the region, I think it's very important to have a clear definition. What do you mean by inclusion/ accessibility/equity in your institution and what is your vision? What you want to achieve? You need to know where you are now and what you want to achieve within one year, two years or three years because people tend to say we are inclusive environment, we are accessible environment but on ground it's not accessible and there is a scale for the accessibility so we need to have really a clear definition for inclusion accessibility. I think we need to start to think about mainstreaming the accessibility and inclusion policy in our daily general policies. I understand that we have a dedicated policy for accessibility but moreover we need to mainstream this to all other policies. We need to involve people with disabilities.
Recently we started to do accessibility testing for platform and I said we can't do this without students with disabilities and even if we have faculty or whoever wants to join this team, we want them to come, we want to hear from them and we need to improve human resources. Next semester in September we will start to provide the training for HR, how to provide inclusive environment. Definitely the most important thing in our context here is awareness, awareness, awareness! We still need to do a lot in terms of awareness. Thank you so much. Thank you very much Maisa, really comprehensive, lots of information there and I think I’m just looking at the questions if folk want to bring in some questions now, pop them in either the question and answer part or the chat box. Keith is asking ‘what do you think will be your biggest challenge in taking this approach forward?’ Again as I just closed the session as awareness and we need you know we need to increase awareness, not only for people, we need to increase awareness for the higher management for decision makers, why we want to get this budget, why we want to lead these initiatives because usually people will support such initiatives but when it comes for funding and policy, they are not sure if they want to take it forward so I think awareness is the most important element because people still they don't know why we need to have people with disabilities in their work employment, why they should join the work, what is their abilities and capabilities, I think this one of the main challenges. And one thing just came to my mind, it's really important,
we don't have a professional or a specialist here in UAE. We don't have people who are specialized in assistive technology, we don't have even colleges to provide our courses. If you want to get these certificates, you have to go outside or abroad to get these services so we don't have expert in this field in our region. I think this one of the really also another main challenges.
That's it, that's very interesting, I’m sure Craig and Fil are going to be excited about whether or not they could set up a TechAbility or CALL UAE centre. One of the things I’m really interested in what you were saying about awareness being the biggest issue and I think a lot of us would understand that being a problem for the you know the teaching staff, the academic staff, the managers, the budget holders, do you have any experience about the student awareness being a problem where maybe a student just isn't aware of things they could ask for because nobody's ever told them do you come across that in your outreach work? Yes so we have different angle for this challenge. First of all we have students they have disability but they don't want to share this because they feel fear, they don't want to share because they feel stigma, they don't want to get labelled because if you declare that you have disability this will be in your transcript, this will be forever so they don't want this and especially in our culture and perspective, they don't want to be labelled that they have disability so definitely they will hide it. The second thing that they are not aware about these services, every year we do 60 class visits and school visits and just tell people they are not aware that they are services even if it's not to the level that we wanted but still that there are some services. The second angle for this challenge is students without disabilities, they don't know how to interact with people with disabilities so if they have group work, they will just avoid other students to this and then you know not because their intention is not good but they don't know how to interact ‘what I need to do’.
So now heavily we started to provide training sessions etiquette, how to interact, what should expect and we start even to encourage them. If you have a student with disabilities in your classroom, please come to our centre, we will provide the support you don't need to accommodate anything for them. Even you know papers or anything, we will do it. Please come to us. That's really helpful, very interesting, there's a couple of more points coming in in the question and answer area and Kathy's saying ‘a hugely inspiring overview’ for a start which is which we would agree with but she's also saying that she has observed that you haven't really talked about mental health difficulties which we see as a big issue in the UK context and Jonathan also asks about our students with long-term mental health conditions included in that legal definition of people of determination. So can I ask you to address? Yes yeah it's really one of the important questions and this always we receive the academic question so for us student accessibility services department we are under student affairs so there's another department they are providing a support for students with mental health or issues. For students also with long-term condition, we have also clinic and they provide support however the important thing that we are all working together to support all students because definitely we have students with learning difficulties and they have anxiety issues so we have that referral system. We have students with physical
disability and they have long term other conditions, diabetes for example. So we have that referral system connection and however we see for example if the primary issue is disability, they will be under us and we will provide the support. If the primary is for example mental health, it will be under a counselling department, if it's a condition, a health condition, it will be under the clinic. Okay, that's very helpful, now I’m going to start Lillian’s session now so you probably won't have time to answer this to everybody verbally but Keith’s asked about assistive technology tools taking into account the use of different languages such as Arabic and I know you had some you definitely have some things to say on that. Could I ask you to respond to Keith in the question and answer panel so that everybody can see that? That's great, thank you very much Maisa, it's so refreshing to get a perspective from a completely different culture and to learn what we can learn, what we can take from that and what I’m going to do now is to introduce you to Lillian from the University of York who has gone from being somebody who several years ago was interested in stem subjects and assistive technology and I was telling her the kinds of people that she ought to talk to and now she's one of the people that I send people to talk to.
So Lillian is going to talk to us about assistive technology and stem teaching the challenges and opportunities and I’m sorry I’ve taken a minute of your time so I’ll give you your full 10 minutes. Thank you, Alistair and just to set the record straight I’m an educational advisor at the University of York and I actually look after the Social Science department and so my journey began when I was working with my economic staff and my management staff who teach with a lot of equations - mathematical text and obviously that then rolled into this massive thing. So I’ll be covering some of the things that oh by the way I’ve got a link to the slides which I will post in the chat so if you prefer to follow along in on your own screen feel free and so we're going to look at the challenges, tools, approaches and personalisation and recommendations for organisations in 10 minutes and so this going to be challenging but we'll start with a story of how people teach mathematical subjects and this goes across anything that's Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Maths and Economics Management and this a slide from one of my maths tutors and we were looking at, before covid were looking at how we might digitize the handwritten materials for students with visual impairments who are attending classes. So I had to go with this and I used EquatIO and straight away you can see from the slide that they're going to be issues because on the chalkboard, contrast isn't always going to be very high. Not only that, the tutor tends to use the chalkboard as part of a kind of performance/ teaching performance so they're crossing things out which helps with learning the subject. So you kind of need to be there and to be watching it but what's happened since lockdown is that obviously we've got tutors who have had to pivot very quickly and they're saying ‘well teaching online was fine but much more time consuming’ because they had to plan how they were going to convey the same information and perform the subject. It was
harder to focus talking to a camera like I’m doing now and many of them still improvised at home, many of them stole white boards/magnet boards from their children and put them in front of the camera and continued to do the writing which was quite, I think, could be quite engaging and alongside that, many more of them provided their notes digitally. So that was kind of good, it shifted their practice and but they were doing this in LaTeX or R and not always in the most accessible way and they still feel that it's better if students, the students still prefer chalkboard style teaching where you're interacting with the maths on screen. So here's an example from an economics finance type module where you know you've got the very cold terms on the screen but the tutors circling it to add that layer of understanding for the students and then they're actually drawing out a few formula on screen as well. And that's okay but obviously there's some challenges and their challenges are even with digital resources so digital resources aren't the panacea for stem teaching okay. So yes they might create digital resources but can the students see it so that it's sharp enough if they zoom in? Will they be given the notes in advance? And if they get given the note in advance, does the tutor change it just before the session so it's still out of date? Tutors still need to do things like speak the entire equation so a lot of them tend to leave out open paren, close paren and they'll say things like ‘so I’m going to cancel this from here on this side of the equation’ and they need to kind of learn to speak what they are doing.
And some mathematical symbols don't actually have an equivalent in braille that's easy to understand so even if the maths is translated into a usable form for a visually impaired student, they still have a challenge sometimes okay. Now materials can take time to be digitised for the students and you have to think about transcriber skills as well as the tutor skills so it's a lot to think about. And so yeah I’m just going to skip a couple of slides quickly to get on to the kind of organisational approach and things that you might do to ensure that you get from a point of working with one tutor like I did to working with a department to suddenly realizing it's a whole organisation challenge or opportunity as I like to see it and so first off staff use a whole range of ways to create maths from writing, handwriting to Word document and Powerpoint to LaTeX and R and lots of other things in between, I’m sure. So you need to be thinking about supporting them along all those fronts you know if
you're doing practice A, what can I do to get you adopting practice B which is much more accessible. So you need a whole organisation approach and I’m just going to kind of start revealing what we did which was we started off with the Google doc and I started putting in things I discovered and so different roles would appear as I uncovered a little bit more practice by our lecturers that were different from anyone else and then we started exploring the ways of doing things, usually with interns helping us to do a bit of that research. We've now evolved this primer into an actual website and I can copy the link into… this the thing that people have come for really, the goodie bag.
So this website which your tutors may understand better than to be honest I probably don't understand it half as well as my maths tutors. I’ll come across it and go this this great, I really see how this going to help me. We're planning to put in the glossary along with the JISC accessibility clinic, maths subgroup, there's a few of us working on the glossary. So I’m just going to kind of tie in what Maisa said about the approaches to kind of making the support work as an organization right and I literally just copied and pasted this slide in 10 minutes ago because I’ve talked about this idea of the disability gap before learning about it from our Universal Design for Learning camps that you've got to look at what you can change in the environment but you can also approach it from the student skills perspective and it's quite important to remember that with every action that you plan to do. And so again from that that Universal Design for Learning camp, I came across the kind of pyramid and it blew my mind that quite often we design actions but if you bother to try and map those actions against some framework and it almost doesn't matter what kind of framework and Maisa’s was lovely with that concentric circle right it helps you to remember all the different layers that you need to look at and consider. So, the UDL pyramid is just one of those and
this is how our thinking was mapped across something like the UDL principle, so it meant that we remembered that for every action we remembered the implications for students’ skills, the implications for staff skills, and what the organization needed to do to support that. Another kind of goodie bag, this slide has links to all our tangible examples, obviously not everything has got those tangible examples yet, but where I have got examples of things, I’ve linked onto this, ‘slide 16’ for you. Just some things I wanted to show for example, a LaTeX template that we were building that's available on the math site and creating a good source of guidance, I think lots of universities are better at this than ourselves. When it comes to supporting students, we seem to have guidance from every single team
and the student has to go looking. We certainly believe in stimulating conversations, so we have our actual stem tutors sharing inclusive practice and ideas for that. Emily has spoken at the Future Teacher Webinar before and you can have a look at that, and we have finally got just this idea of shifting digital accessibility across the whole organization. I’ve written a blog post about that which you can read to understand what that thinking through was. So, a real traipse through my, I’ll call it my monkey mind, when I approach a project, it goes off like a mind map and I have to corral myself and my actions using this kind of frameworks and things. But that maths and mathematical text website is certainly one way where I kind of confine myself to what I’m trying to do. So, any questions?
Thank you very much Lillian, and Keith’s got a question in there straight away so I’ll let you go to that, but could you, just before you go to that, could you go back sharing your screen to that lovely summary you had at the end? The UDL one? Yeah, your UDL framework and how, that was it, the how you were shifting, moving up the pyramid from level one being everything for everybody. I think it may be helpful if you would say a little bit more about that, but let's go back to Keith’s question first and then we'll see what other questions come. If we've got time, it might be worth you un-packing that a little bit further. Okay, so Keith’s asking about with regards to stem, how do you feel ‘AT’, Assistive Technology can offer better support when dealing with mathematical functions in the way it does with language tasks? So, I haven't overtly mentioned a tool that we've acquired and have deployed across the whole University called ‘EquatIO’. That is part of the textile ‘read write’ family of products,
and so EquatIO allows you to dictate your maths and you can even have it read back out to you so you can check that you've written the correct maths. So, things like that can be really helpful for anyone with dyslexia or even a visual impairment, except that it's quite a visual tool to begin with and to be honest our VI students don't use things like EquatIO, they have other systems that they use for that kind of thing. I think there is AT available if you look for it, I highly recommend Text Help EquatIO for that. Thank you very much. Trevor's saying, “amazing presentation, many great tips and insights”, so thank you very much for that Trevor. Ali is saying, “are you sharing your findings with other unis?”
because Ali is supporting maths elites and clearly you have similar things that you're working on. Yeah, absolutely. So, I guess we're trying to do this through the JISC accessibility clinic. We have a subgroup, I think we've met twice, and as part of that I volunteered to write the organizational approach, which is on the EquatIOn’s website, and they've taken the job of starting that glossary. All the terms that they don't understand, they're going to take the term and are going to find the definitions for it. So, we have been promoting it in the accessibility clinic teams event, I think I’m guilty of saying it's not quite finished yet, maybe I shouldn't quite tweet it, there's a lot of stuff in that site already to be honest.
So, we promoted it on the 20th of May on Global Accessibility Awareness Day, as our contribution on that day to accessibility. But, we’re happy to work with anybody who would like to join the group and contribute really, because we are all supporting academics doing mathematical things. And this of course would be very cross-cultural as well, because if you're working in different languages, the language of maths is international. Yes, absolutely. So yeah. Lillian
can I just check that I’m right in an assumption I’ve made. I’ve just popped into the text chat page how people can contact either Kelly Moat or Laura Hutton to join the JISC accessibility team. Absolutely. That's the link? Okay great. So, we've got a question there. Yes, Ali, in fact a comment rather than question, ‘most unis work on their own in bubbles’, I think there is a large extent to which that is certainly true. Yeah, just one thing to add I know the heads of E-Learning Forum, they've talked about this EquatIOn’s primer before. So, the heads of E-Learning are aware of
the materials and it's whether they've then passed it on within their organizations to the equivalent of me in their University who's interested in this. I’ve certainly heard from lots of universities who have said they've come across the primer, they've found it helpful, and then they've used that model to create their own University support for staff. Phil’s just popped a link in here as well, and Phil and indeed Craig as well, either of you two if you've got any other contributions about technologies that you've come across that you've used, other tools or sources of expertise. Do you want to open up the microphones and tell us?
Phil tell us why you popped that link in there. Oh sorry, that link is just a general information page about the accessibility assistive technology network. I mean people can drop an email to Kelly or Laura, Techability's kind of involved that community as well, we help facilitate it and still take meetings and things like that. I did have a question for Lillian, I’d heard a while ago Lillian that EquatIO wasn't up to the job of hardcore maths, but am I mistaken in that or is it developed a lot? This was maybe 18 months ago, has it developed a lot? We have put it through the paces with higher education maths and people who write LaTeX assume they can write pure LaTeX in there and they have to work a little bit slower, not as fluidly as they might do on a tech code platform, but it certainly can be used. So, we have examples on that website
and I’m adding another one from an interview I did with a GTA, so she's obviously a researcher